A new maternity services plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in rural and remote communities is urgently required, a new report has found.
Published in the Medical Journal of Australia this week, Improving maternity services for Indigenous women in Australia: moving from policy to practice comprehensively reviewed Australia's National Maternity Services Plan (NMSP) and resulting actions regarding Aboriginal mothers and babies between 2010-2015.
The report found that the NMSP "expired without notable results" in 3 priority areas: building the Aboriginal maternity workforce, providing culturally competent maternity care and developing dedicated programs for 'birthing on country'.
Emeritus Professor Lesley Barclay AO from the University Centre for Rural Health, said: "Almost a quarter of Aboriginal women give birth in remote parts of Australia, compared with just two percent of non-Aboriginal women. The disparities in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians are well established, including higher incidence of preterm birth, low birth weight and newborn mortality. We also know chronic diseases take root early in life."
"We're calling on the government to provide urgent funding for priority areas identified and accepted in the past, and for further research into the most effective ways we can arrest and improve health outcomes for all Aboriginal people. "
Report in PDF
About the report